How it works: Metal

I watched the BBC’s “How it works: Metal”, it’s a nice program with brilliant visuals, but I feel they really missed a chance to explain some of the science. I think a lot of the detail skipped in the program was needless, and that just explaining simply would have been better. For example, a lot of the program hovered on the verge of explaining dislocations, even showing a video of them in the TEM, but this is completely impossible to put into any frame of reference without explaining what they are, and probably leads to many more misconceptions.

It would have been simpler to explain that crystals are periodic arrangements of atoms, than say that metals are like quartz except that it doesn’t explode when it is hit. Animations of crystal lattices shown where very pretty but I think it was difficult to understand what the dislocation was (since it looked like a cluster of atoms).

The program covered a lot of ground, touching on alloying, precipitation hardening, single crystal superalloys. It seems like the aim was to inspire people or impress them about metals rather than to actually let them learn anything about what they are really like.


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